From Haute Couture to computer hacks
With two older brothers working as Software Engineers, there is no doubt where Pernilla Eilert found her inspiration. Her coding path started already as a child when she watched her brother develop gaming apps that they then programmed together. But there were other interests that had a stronger influence. After she graduated high school, she moved to Paris to study Fashion Design and Haute Couture. An industry not that different from software design. At least according to Pernilla.
"Working in the fashion and IT industries actually has several similarities. Both are equally diverse and require as much patience as accuracy. And in both professions, you get to try different techniques or technologies that you constantly learn from, which is very inspiring," says Pernilla.
After fulfilling one of her childhood dreams of becoming a Fashion Designer, one dream still remained. And it was that dream, together with her great passion for math and programming, that eventually led her back home to Sweden.
"After I completed my bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts, I started thinking back to the time when I tried coding, and I really missed math. So, I decided to go back home and continue developing this passion of mine," Pernilla continues.
Mastering the brain of a fighter aircraft
During her fourth year of studying Science in Engineering and Computer Science at Linköping University, she attended a fair organized by the university where she met her former boss who told her about Saab. She decided to apply for a temporary position during the summer, which led to an hourly employment that she started already the same spring.
"On my first day at Saab, I got to work with the source code in Gripen. That really shows how much Saab believes and trusts their employees, right from the start."
After writing her master’s thesis about learning behaviour trees for simulated fighter pilots in airborne reconnaissance missions, she was offered the job as a Software and Systems Engineer at Saab. Together with her team, she is now developing the decision support system of Gripen, which provides support to the pilot in building situational awareness and in controlling the sensor suite. A job that involves designing, coding, testing, and verifying the solutions in simulators. Almost like a game but in real life.
“It’s very exciting to be involved in coding something that our pilots use the next day in real life.”
Off to a flying start
As an engineer at Saab, there is no such thing as an ordinary day at work. With several development opportunities and varied projects and teams, every day is different. During her two and a half years at Saab, Pernilla has had the chance to work as a Software and Systems Engineer, Test leader, and Team leader, which has given her the possibility to be involved in several exciting projects.
“At Saab, you get the chance to shape your career path based on your own interests.”
"Our managers listen to our interests and make it possible for us to work in the areas we want to learn more about. It’s a great way to develop and learn from the experience of others," says Pernilla.
Complex products and cutting-edge technologies
Working with such a complex product as Gripen in an environment where digital development is progressing rapidly is surely as exciting as it sounds. But being a System and Software Engineer at Saab, involves much more than just programming.
"Being a System and Software Engineer at Saab is also about planning how the solution can cooperate with the already existing system, from choosing the software design to figure out which components are needed and which layers to consider. It’s a very stimulating profession where you are constantly learning new things along the way. And that’s the best part of my job."
“It’s both interesting and challenging to work with different problems, always striving to find the right solutions.”
The most challenging: Finding solutions to the problems we face and how to realize it in code and design.
The most inspiring: To work with such a complex product and cool technologies every day.
Your best advice to a potential colleague: It is okay to take different paths in your career before you find the right one. Everything you learn through life and all the experiences you get, will always be useful.
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